Rail tweets

We’ve been playing with twitter over here. It’s sort of an experiment, but we’re tweeting about MetroRail–check us out.

Everyone’s on twitter, it seems. Frankly I never really got the memo; or, perhaps more appropriate, I missed the train.

One of our executives had earlier suggested twitter as a potential tool for frequent MetroRail updates. And after playing with it, it is kind of interesting. Perhaps it could evolve into a mechanism for service announcements once the Red Line is operating full service. That’s what Washington DC’s Metro just did. Maybe I could become a reluctant twitter fan with practice.

12 thoughts on “Rail tweets

  1. Chip

    Twitter is best used for ephemeral things: information that doesn’t have value 60 minutes from now.

    Please continue to promote and support your blog and RSS feed for news and information updates.

  2. Jamie Bemoore

    I agree…I don’t believe that Twitter is the best means of communicating with the general public. Instead, if Capital Metro wants to improve communications with riders and the public, I suggest that they create a monthly newsletter (both online and printed copies on buses/trains), similar to other transit agencies. This increases transparency, while providing the information to everyone (because not all transit riders have easy access to the internet).

  3. vindobonensis

    I agree with the other commenters that twitter is not the best medium for what CM tries to communicate. I appreciate well thought out and researched posts by CM staff on this blog in complete sentences; also, while I agree information through twitter would be very timely, I think CM staff should filter through the noise of daily activity and focus on the big picture. For example, I’d much rather have been informed earlier about the delay in start of service than how rain on the weekend impacts your construction on Kramer and Howard stations.

    Also, not everyone is on twitter, but it appears to be the latest fad getting a lot of media attention. I know blogging seems so 2008 but I suggest you stick to this prior latest fad until and when twitter is not the latest fad anymore!

    @ Jamie, I believe Capital Metro already has an online newsletter:

    http://www.enewsbuilder.net/capmet/

    However, I do agree with you that it should be published and promoted more widely and more often.

  4. Erica McKewen

    The blog’s not going anywhere. I guess the thinking is that twitter is simply another vehicle in which to talk to people… the information posted there would serve a different purpose and perhaps reach a different group of people who might not be interested in reading through the posts here or digging around on our Web site.

    Vin is right, though, we do publish an online newsletter each month, and you can read the current issue and subscribe to get an email alert when each new issue is posted here: http://www.enewsbuilder.net/capmet/

  5. David Johannes

    Twitter is by no means a replacement for traditional methods of distributing such as print media and now blogs, but with its ever expanding user base and as it becomes increasingly relevant in people's everyday lives, it a very powerful communication tool. Quick updates, quick questions, quick responses: these are just a few of the many advantages that Twitter offers to busy on-the-go people.

    I agree with Erica's thinking that Twitter is another vehicle in which to talk to people. Austin has the largest number of twitter users in Texas, compared to the other large metropolitan areas such as Houston and Dallas, a demographic that anyone working in communications cannot ignore. This is by no means an accident, considering the fact that Austin has always been perceived as forward thinking and creative place to live, a formula that might cultivate people to pick up a micro-blogging service such as Twitter, as they realize the many uses it has in their everyday lives. CapMetro is making a very smart move jumping on the Twitter train.

    There are countless ways that CapMetro can take advantage of this service. Why not expand the transit information and support services? From what I understand, CM already uses Dadnab, a service which I feel is not very well known to many Austin residents. Quick posts about on the spot announcements could also be sent through twitter. Broken down buses/trains, delays in routes, construction updates, quick tips, traffic updates, promotions, etc. are just some of the ways Twitter is useful for these quick announcements.

    We live in a world where our lives are becoming increasingly transparent with the advent of telephone, email, and now social media. People meet, build & maintain relationships, and communicate with one another in so many ways now. Organizations should too.

  6. Adam Shaivitz

    Here’s another report you may find useful. Capital Metro’s President/CEO presents key stats and performance measures to the Board of Directors each month. These reports are posted here.

  7. LG

    twitter is great. can you use it to update us on the progress of the rail investigation.

    can anyone explain why it’s going to take 2 months for an action plan?

  8. Jamie Bemoore

    Adam, thank you for posting the link to the CEO’s monthly report. Out of curriosity, does Capital Metro have documents that they release to the public with information on route productivity (such as riders/service hours/subsidy/etc. that is broken down on a route by route basis). I have seen other transit agencies with this information, and it is interesting to see how our tax dollars are being allocated.

    Thanks!

  9. Misty Whited

    LG,

    We need adequate time to refine the action plan and pinpoint any remaining challenges to opening the system. We want to be confident in a new plan of action before we report back to the community.

  10. Don Dickson

    I think that if y’all put your heads together you could find lots of uses for Twitter. I don’t get why the account is “capmetrorail,” this seems to me to be just another indication of how preoccupied CM is with these trains, while y’all seem to have forgotten that you’re running a bus system that is being used every day by more people than your rail system is ever going to serve.

    If it weren’t for a recent blog post about the upcoming summer service changes, you’d be hard-pressed to find any mention of the bus system on this blog lately.

  11. Erica McKewen

    Hi, Don. Nice to hear from you! It has been sort of “railcentric” but to be fair, MetroRail is a huge endeavor and there is a lot of information to share. I’m going to be covering our annual Bus and Paratransit Roadeo this weekend, which is a contest for bus operators and mechanics to showcase their safe driving skills (and diagnostics for mechanics).

  12. Erica McKewen

    Jamie, as part of the process for developing recommendations for each of the three service changes we do each year, the planning staff performs an analysis that includes most of the components you listed. It also includes a bunch of other stuff, and the spreadsheet becomes a bit unwieldy and confusing “as is.” Perhaps that’s why it hasn’t been widely distributed before.

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